1 John 3.5-6, “You know that [Christ] appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” The power of sin is destroyed at the saving sight of Christ [in the gospel]. The practice of sin, then, is increasingly abated by abiding in Him. And these work together, after having been saved, for our growth in godliness also [or, as John puts it, the practice of righteousness].
The more we see of Christ, the more we see of Him to know and love, which binds us to Him; for our hearts are drawn to beautiful things, and Christ is most beautiful. And, in conjunction, the more we abide in Him, the more we see of Him. And so we grow in Christ-likeness by seeing and abiding, abiding and seeing Christ. The sight and, consequent, satisfaction of our hearts in Him pushes out the draw of temptation to sin. Temptation feasts on dissatisfaction with Christ, which is also the very thing it seeks, luring the heart away from the only One able to satisfy. But, where Christ is sought out, seen, known, and loved, the soul is satisfied, and the allurement of sin dies. The baited hook is discovered to be a hook, and nothing more. So if we are glued to Christ, we will not go to sin. Thus John, quoting Jesus, frequently exhorts us, “Abide in Christ.”
How? How do we abide in Christ? The Bible’s answers—
1. Go to the gospel of Christ—“Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6.56). By going to the gospel, personally, and directing others there, day after day, we take in what Christ has done for us.
2. Abide in the Word of Christ—“If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (8.31-32). Adopt a Bible-reading plan that a] has you in the Word daily and is b] suitable to your days. A good resource for this—http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/12/27/reading-the-bible-in-2013/.
3. Put off what disconnects from Christ—“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15.4-6). This is the hard heart-work that needs to be happening at regular intervals in our lives. Is there anything in my life that is unplugging me from Christ? Is there anything that has become a substitute for communion with Christ? Instead of reading my Bible, praying, serving, etc., what am I doing? Is whatever that is for God’s sake or not? Has that become a pattern in my life? Is there a stream anywhere slowly carving out a Canyon between me and Christ? Has something been elevated above Christ in my heart? Put it off!
4. Pray by the authority of Christ—“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15.7). An incentive to abiding in Christ is the promise of effective prayer and, conversely, effective prayer will drive you to abide in Christ.
5. Labor to live in the love of Christ for you—“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept the Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15.9-10). The effect, as you see in these verses, is obedience to Christ and, more specifically, obedience to the command to love one another (15.12). Living in Christ’s love ties in to #1, go to the gospel.
6. Pursue personal Christ-likeness—“Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked” (1 John 2.6). If you seek to set your feet in His steps, you will abide in Christ. See also 1 John 3.24 and 4.13, where it is likened to walking in and by the Holy Spirit, or seeking to bear the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5.19-26).
7. Pursue the Christ-likeness of others—“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2.10). The one who abides in Christ, abides in the light and loves his brother or sister in the faith; which, here, is demonstrated by being one who is no hindrance to the holiness of others.
8. Stick with Christ—“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father—And this is the promise that He made to us—eternal life” (1 John 2.24-25). If you hold the truths of the gospel and of God in your heart, you’ll abide in God, which obtains the promise of eternal life. This is how to abide in the Son and the Father—have God’s testimonies and truths in you. Hold them fast. Stick with Christ.